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Old 07-31-2006, 06:42 AM
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Default Native American prisoners in NH sue for right to sweat lodge

Native American prisoners in NH sue for right to sweat lodge

22 Apr 2006
Submitted by: Anonymous
Publisher: Union Leader

Concord – Steam from a Native American sweat or purification lodge may soon be rising from the grounds of one of the state’s two men’s prisons.

Two state prisoners have sued Department of Corrections officials in federal court claiming their right to practice their Native American religion has been infringed because they have been denied the use of a sweat lodge. They claim the construction and use of a sweat lodge is fundamental to their religion.

Sweat lodge ceremonies are held for the purification of the participants. They are typically held in a structure made of cedar or willow saplings covered with canvas tarps or blankets.

Rocks are heated in a fire pit outside and then moved into the structure, where water is poured over them to create steam.

Prison officials repeatedly denied requests for sweat lodges, saying the use of heated rocks and the disorienting effects from inhalants pose a risk to security, health and safety.

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